DEAR BOB: I own a condo in a well-constructed 40-year-old building with wonderful neighbors. Out of 83 units, we have only two renters, although we have no restrictions against rentals. That shows owner-occupants want to live here. But our old windows leak water and air. The homeowner association board of directors has proposed replacing the old windows. Most owners agree they need replacement. However, the board wants to assess each condo owner according to the number of windows in our unit. My assessment will be $3,600. But the association has over $300,000 in its reserve treasury. Shouldn’t the reserves be used to pay for the new windows? – Breta S.
DEAR BRETA: The exact answer depends on your condo association’s CC&Rs (conditions, covenants and restrictions). The CC&Rs normally state the homeowner’s association is responsible for maintenance of the building exterior. That usually includes windows, unless specifically excluded.
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However, the association might have insufficient reserves to pay the entire cost of replacing the windows. Perhaps some of the reserves should be used for new windows, thus reducing the amount of special assessments for each condo owner.
With only two rentals out of 83 condo units, it sounds like you have a wonderful condo complex. Most associations consider less than 10 percent rentals to be excellent.
At the next homeowner association meeting, I recommend you very politely suggest the association use some of its reserves to pay part of the new window cost with the members paying the balance by means of a special assessment.
WHY CAN’T HOME SELLER GET BUYER’S FORFEITED DEPOSIT?
DEAR BOB: My home is listed for sale. A buyer made a very good purchase offer, which I accepted. Although the listing and buyer’s agents told me what a superb buyer he was, he turned out to be a total flake with bad credit who couldn’t get a mortgage. He paid a $10,000 earnest money deposit. After 30 days, I was entitled to cancel the sale and did so. The buyer had the nerve to demand refund of his deposit after I held my house off the market for 30 days. I refused to refund. But now I can’t get that $10,000, which is being held in the broker’s trust account. What do I have to do to get that $10,000? – Evan R.
DEAR EVAN: The real estate broker holding that deposit in the broker’s trust account is doing the right thing by refusing to either refund the $10,000 deposit to the defaulting buyer or give it to you until both parties agree on its disbursement.
Unless you and the buyer can resolve the dispute, the broker must hold the funds. State law usually requires after a specified period, such as 12 months, if the parties cannot agree what to do with the money, it must be interpleaded into the local court. That means the judge decides who gets the $10,000. For more details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
SHOULD LIVING TRUSTS BE REVISED AFTER MOVING TO FLORIDA?
DEAR BOB: About 12 years ago, my wife and I created a joint living trust to avoid probate, as we own real estate in two states. We recently moved to Florida and now own real estate in three states. Should we revise our living trust or obtain a new one? – Ron H.
DEAR RON: It’s time to revisit your living trust to see if it still provides for your desires after one of you dies or becomes incapacitated.
You will probably want to add your Florida property to your living trust. Also, you need “pour-over wills” to provide for any assets you haven’t included in your living trust. Please consult a Florida attorney who specializes in living trusts.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “24 Key Questions Answered: Living Trust Secrets Reveal How to Avoid Probate Costs and Delays,” is available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet PDF delivery at www.bobbruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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